Red Star OS

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Red Star OS
Red Star OS bootsplash cut.png
The desktop of Red Star OS 3.0, localized with North Korean terminology and spelling
Developer Korea Computer Center, North Korea
OS family Unix-like
Latest release 3.0
Marketing target Workstations, servers
Available in Korean (North Korean standard)
Platforms i386 (x86)
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux)
Default user interface KDE 3

Red Star OS (Chosŏn'gŭl붉은별; MRPulgŭnbyŏl) is a North Korean Linux-based operating system. Development started in 2002 at the Korea Computer Center (KCC). Prior to its development, computers in North Korea typically used English versions of Microsoft Windows,[1] - indeed it appears that the majority still use Windows XP.[2]

Version 3.0 was released in the summer of 2013, but as of 2014 version 2.5 continues to be more widely used. It is only offered in a Korean language edition, localized with North Korean terminology and spelling.[3]


Red Star OS features a modified Mozilla Firefox browser titled Naenara used for browsing the Naenara web portal on the North Korean intranet network known as Kwangmyong. The word Naenara means My country in Korean. Other software includes a text editor, an e-mail client, audio and video players, and games.[4] Version 3, like its predecessor, runs Wine, a piece of software that allows Windows programs to be run under Linux.[5]

Red Star OS 3.0, like its predecessors, uses a KDE 3 desktop. However, 3.0 more closely resembles Apple's OS X whereas previous versions more closely resembled Windows XP; current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was seen with an iMac on his desk in a 2013 photo, indicating a possible connection to the redesign.[4][6][7]

Media attention[edit]

The Japan-based, North Korea-affiliated newspaper Choson Sinbo interviewed two Red Star OS programmers in June 2006.[1] In February 2010, a Russian international student at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang purchased a copy and posted about it on his LiveJournal account; Russian television station RT then picked up his LiveJournal post and translated it into English.[4] English-language technology blogs, including Engadget and Osnews, as well as South Korean wire services such as Yonhap, went on to repost the content.[3][8][9] In late 2013, Will Scott, who was visiting the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, purchased a copy of version 3 from a KCC retailer in southern Pyongyang, and uploaded screenshots to the internet.[5]

In 2015, two German researchers speaking at the Chaos Communication Congress[10] described the internal operation of the OS.[11] The North Korean government wants to track the underground market of USB flash drives used to exchange foreign movies, music and writing,[12] and the system watermarks all files on portable media attached to computers.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kim, Chi-yong (2006-06-21), "〈민족정보산업의 부흥 -상-〉 《우리식 콤퓨터조작체계(OS) 》의 개발과 도입", Choson Sinbo (in Korean), retrieved 2006-03-03 
  2. ^ Jeremy Wagstaff and James Pearson (27 December 2015). "Paranoid: North Korea’s Computer Operating System Mirrors Its Political One". Reuters. 
  3. ^ a b Nam, Hyeon-ho (2010-03-03), 北, 독자적 컴퓨터 운영체제 '붉은별' 개발, Yonhap News (in Korean), retrieved 2013-01-23 
  4. ^ a b c "North Korea’s "secret cyber-weapon": brand new Red Star OS", RT, 2010-03-01, retrieved 2013-01-23 
  5. ^ a b Williams, Martyn (January 31, 2014). "North Korea's Red Star OS Goes Mac". North Korea Tech. Martyn Williams. Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Apple's Mac OS X imitated in latest North Korea system". BBC News. 2014-02-05. 
  7. ^ "North Korean computers get 'Apple' makeover". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Holwerda, Thom (2009-03-04), "North Korea Develops Its Own Linux Distribution", OSNews, retrieved 2013-01-23 
  9. ^ Flatley, Joseph L. (2009-03-04), "North Korea's Red Star OS takes the 'open' out of 'open source'", Engadget, retrieved 2013-01-23 
  10. ^ Florian Grunow; Niklaus Schiess (2015-12-28). Lifting the Fog on Red Star OS - A deep dive into the surveillance features of North Korea's operating system. Chaos Communication Congress 32. 
  11. ^ Jeremy Wagstaff and James Pearson (27 December 2015). "Paranoid: North Korea's computer operating system mirrors its political one". Reuters. 
  12. ^ James Pearson (27 March 2015). "The $50 device that symbolizes a shift in North Korea". Reuters. 
  13. ^ "RedStar OS Watermarking". Insinuator. 

External links[edit]